Since I was a young girl, like many other fashionistas, I’ve looked forward to the latest wedding magazines to do a little “dreaming.” However, this fall, I watched the bridal runway presentations with a mission: to see what shapes, trends, and styles would best suit the curvy bride in general, and my very good friend in particular.
What a daunting task, finding the perfect dress, no matter the size! But, let’s face it, being anything bigger than a size 14 is a challenge, especially when it comes to special occasion wear.
I wondered, can a full-figured bride dare to go a little bare? The answer is a resounding YES! Designers in the past decade have begun to get the message that we curvy girls don’t always want to cover up everything––and I mean everything––when it comes to walking up the aisle.
Five Things to Keep in Mind
1. Consider staying away from voluminous styles that overwhelm your figure—bigger is not better, trust me! My bride-to-be friend and I learned that we curvy girls need to pay close attention to what both fits and flatters our curves. Finding a body-skimming silhouette to enhance your female form is still the best way to go for your special day. It’s a matter of showing off your assets to their fullest—no pun intended!
2. It’s so important to try on different gown silhouettes. Don’t be afraid to reach for a certain style because you think curvy girls can’t wear it. Try EVERYTHING on. See what you like.
3. Flatter your shape. Feeling overwhelmed by the many varieties of necklines, bustlines, and dress silhouettes? See To Know Your Shape is to Love Your Shape for my tips on wading through dress terminology to know and choose a style that flatters—or doesn’t flatter—you!
4. In choosing a style, you should represent your style. My friend Suzanne started her search by revisiting clippings she had kept from magazines since high school. She had lots of images, some great, and some we crumpled immediately! Keep a scrapbook of images that inspire you, move you, and represent you. I have a Donna Karan image that I ripped out of Vogue of an infamous cream jersey dress created in 1989. As far as I’m concerned, this is the dress for me. Why? Because it has this incredible deep V-tuxedo collar neckline, a small train, and when I came out of the dressing room at Bloomingdale’s—just had to try it on of course!––a group of men walking through the designer area turned to look at me and just smiled … enough said!
5. Shop around. Spend a lot of time looking and trying, playing and experimenting. Don’t forget the web! See my list of my favorite online retailers for the curvy bride: Shopping Around for the Curvy Bride.
My friend Suzanne—a fuller bustline, little bit of a tummy, petite in height, wants to bare her arms—tried on lots of styles and also lots of fabrications of wedding dresses, and boy did we learn some lessons! Like Suzanne, don’t be afraid to try anything and everything that grabs your eye. Try different weights of fabric and different shades—do you know how many shades of white and ivory there are? And hey, there’s also the rest of the rainbow …
What did Suzanne end up with? Well she’s still deciding between two gorgeous dresses from opposite price points. There’s the shorter version from EvansLondon’s new bridal line. The other choice is an Augusta Jones strapless A-line long lace dress from Kleinfeld Bridal. Hard to decide, right? We had seen the first one online in their plus-size division of designer looks and loved it more in person on our appointment (being treated like a princess bride wasn’t bad from their staff either!). This A-line v-neck empire waist dress in silk charmeuse was divoon. Surprise ladies! They even had a size 18 sample for my girlfriend to try on right there! And other dresses too! Creamy white and modern—it’s fab.
Either way, I think Steve will approve when she walks down the aisle!
Have fun searching for the perfect gown for your perfect day and for your perfect figure. Yes, you heard me! Your PERFECT figure. Celebrate your curves and have a truly memorable day.
Photo courtesy of Gaetanne Leduc of Then Comes Marriage